BBC2 ran a series called
Art That Made Us. And in between working artists, images known and unknown, information and commentary, of course there were things that didn’t work for me -but they were minor compared to eight segments of something I wanted to watch. So I wrote to the man in overall charge. Not a word.
Of course the email may never have reached him, remaindered or rejected by a busy assistant. Perhaps he can’t stand me so that, even if he recognises my name, it’s not helpful. Acknowledgement would be nice. Nada.
There are more ways of getting in touch now, in touch is social hives. Everybody’s got it and it itches. People carry their mobiles bedroom, bathroom, car crash and supermarket but there is no voicemail so you can’t leave a message. If you’re the caller, you go right on calling. You know the names of the speedy answering/share/ social media platforms better than me. I avoid them like the plague. I have friends who make good use of them – personal choice.
I have done well with the Post Office
but occasionally you send something first class (small mortgage) and it arrives a week later. I like emails, they convinced a lot of people they could communicate through writing – but my neighbour upstairs having given her details to me, confessed “I don’t very often look at it.” Right – note through the door then. Only picks that up when the mood is on her. Note on the door does better.
Sitting with two intelligent 25 year olds in their first jobs having embarked on careers in architecture (quite different approaches), they agreed that the most important thing was what we used to call interpersonal communication. Talk and get people to talk. Everything is more possible from there.
I was brought up to speak to people. And I have broad shoulders – brush off, fish eye, bloody rude – your business. I go on doing it because it works.
And people doing all those jobs we take for granted mostly open like roses in a little verbal sunshine. Nowadays I think it is a profoundly political act, to speak across age, education, class, expectation and colour, human to human. And I have wonderful adventures and meet interesting people again and again. Not illegal, immoral or fattening. Life – and I remain largely enthusiastic about it because of this approach.
40 years ago I met a successful presenter, fronting a chatty series to which she asked me to contribute. I agreed and she was warm and competent, I liked her. All these years later, a friend drew to my attention a written interview, where she remarked generously on my breakthrough programmes. I found an address and wrote a personal and private letter of thanks. She took the trouble to reply, to say she meant what she said. Keep the diamonds. I’ll keep that card.
If you saw something in the paper which spoke especially to you, you used to write to the journalist in care of his employer. Not now. Nowadays there is an index of where to write re current affairs, arts, politics etc. And I can just imagine some young thing designated to go through them and not to bother anybody important with them, a breakdown in communication exemplified.
The economist writing about related matters for the Sunday Times has an email and replies. Thank you David Smith. But you have no way of communicating your feedback which leads at worst to a stand off – like over 60 per cent of the American public support abortion – and their Supreme Court rules against it. Don’t tell us what you want to hear. We’ll tell you what to listen to.
The other day I bought raspberries from the Co -op. They were big fruit, of which I am wary but they were delicious. I looked up the supplier and sent a note quoting the variety and saying “Just bought them, outstanding, thank you. Some of us really want to support our farmers. “ And I got a reply. Hence the title for this annalog – *communicate, respond , acknowledge.